Breathing somewhat easier, SAN FRANCISCO is moving toward what could be its first division title on the arms of Gaylord Perry, famous for that razor blade commercial with his brother Jim, and John Cumberland, famous for nothing until he started beating the Braves. A Yankee cast-off, Cumberland now is 8-3 and has compiled three of his victories against Atlanta. His latest victory, a four-hit shutout in which just one Brave. Marty Perez, reached second, followed a seven-hit shutout by Perry. Rookie Dave Kingman had three hits and two RBIs in that one but the next day was rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy. Slumping LOS ANGELES came out fighting in Houston, or at least Willie Crawford did. In a brawl that some say was better than the Ali-Ellis fight under the same dome, Crawford took umbrage at some close pitching and popped Astro Catcher Jack Hiatt, a would-be peacemaker, in the nose. The Dodgers went on to outpoint the Astros 3-2 and decisioned Houston in the next two games behind the pitching of Doyle Alexander and Don Sutton. But HOUSTON got its revenge in the series finale. With the Dodgers leading 3-2 in the fifth and the bases loaded, Cesar Cedeno of the Astros blooped a hit to right. "It was an alltime salami," said teammate Bob Watson. "We don't give him a grand salami because the ball didn't leave the park." But Cedeno touched all the bases as Second Baseman Jim Lefebvre and Right-fielder Bill Buckner avoided a collision, and the ball wound up in the right-field corner. Final score: 9-3. Steve Arlin lowered the SAN DIEGO team earned run average to 3.29, which ranks a surprising fourth in the league, as he posted a 3-2 victory over ATLANTA. Back-to-back losses to the Giants all but ended any chance the Braves had of catching the leaders or the second-place Dodgers. Said Manager Luman Harris, "We should have forfeited." Adding to Harris' woes was an injury to 21-year-old Mike McQueen, called by Henry Aaron "more like Warren Spahn than any young Braves pitcher I have seen." X rays of McQueen's elbow show a small crack that will require surgery. With trouble like that the Braves better not look back. CINCINNATI'S Sparky Anderson has a new one-year contract for 1972 and would like nothing better than catching Atlanta.
SF 82-56 LA 74-65 ATL 71-70 CIN 68-73 HOUS 65-74 SD 53-86
If PITTSBURGH had only to play the Phillies all year, there would not be much of a pennant race. The Pirates racked up 35 hits in a three-game sweep, making their two-season record against the Phillies 25-9 and extending to 25 the number of games in which Philadelphia Manager Frank Lucchesi had to call his bullpen. Lucchesi even had a comment, "I picked the Pirates to win this division real early, back in spring training. The only thing they have to worry about is what hotel to book for the celebration." ST. LOUIS has not given up the idea of enjoying the same sort of headache. Still only six games back, the Cards obtained righthander Stan Williams, a veteran of 14 seasons, from Minnesota for two farmhands. Williams will relieve when Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton are not pitching their usual complete games or Reggie Cleveland is not beating CHICAGO, as he did 6-1. Earlier, Ferguson Jenkins did what a lot of run-deprived pitchers are having to do these days. He hit two home runs and pitched his 26th complete game in a 5-2 win against Montreal. This was the first game of a doubleheader, and when the Cubs lost the second 11-2, Shortstop Don Kessinger said, "The trouble with doubleheaders is that you can't enjoy the first victory too long." Glenn Beckert, batting .342, can no longer enjoy the season. He underwent surgery on his right thumb and is out for the year. MONTREAL seemed to enjoy making the leaders miserable. The latest to feel the Expos' sting were the Pirates. A four-game string, Pittsburgh's longest since July, was ended when Montreal scored three in the ninth for a 6-4 victory. Pitchers Tom Seaver and Gary Gentry kept the NEW YORK earned run average low, but nobody was particularly high on the Mets' chances of catching the leaders. The hottest pitcher around—he has not lost since Aug. 1—Seaver beat Gibson head-to-head (7-1) for the third time this season, but it was New York's only win of three against the Cards.
PITT 83-57 ST. L 76-62 CHI 73-65 NY 71-66 MONT 59-77 PHIL 57-81
This is the year of No, No, Nanette and Follies and now of Harvey Kuenn, the American League batting champion of 1959 who retired five years ago. Serving as a batting coach for the MILWAUKEE Brewers, the 40-year-old Kuenn needed a few more weeks to qualify as a 15-year major league veteran, so General Manager Frank Lane added him to the expanded 40-man roster. Lane claims he had an ulterior motive. "It's more than charity. I'm sure that if Harvey were to bat with a runner on second, he'd find some way to move him along." Lane might have added that he would admire anybody who could move the Brewers along. They slipped 200,000 behind their 1970 attendance. The White Sox, trying to keep MINNESOTA'S Harmon Killebrew from breaking a 3-all deadlock, came up with a shift in the bottom of the 10th inning. Rightfielder Rich Morales became a second shortstop and Second Baseman Rich McKinney the fourth infielder on the left side. Only Mike Andrews, at first, was on the right side. "We had to go for the double play," said CHICAGO Manager Chuck Tanner. "We also felt that by giving Killebrew the chance to hit to right we would be taking away from his swing." No luck. Killebrew went to left anyway, and his long sacrifice fly brought home Danny Thompson with the winning run. The Twins won another cliff-hanger, this one against OAKLAND'S Vida Blue. Blue had two outs and two strikes on Catcher George Mitterwald in the ninth but lost 2-1 on Mitterwald's 380-foot drive to left. It was his third one-run loss in four one-run decisions. Mike Hedlund of KANSAS CITY allowed just a third-inning single to Milwaukee's Ron Theobald, but the Brewers won anyway on a hit batsman, a walk and two infield outs—none by Kuenn—for the game's only run. CALIFORNIA Manager Lefty Phillips says his future is up to Owners Bob Reynolds and Gene Autry, which sounds like his future is up.
OAK 89-49 KC 73-64 CHI 64-73 CAL 64-74 MINN 62-73 MIL 58-78